Alaka Valanju

  • Born: September 10, 1951
  • Died: March 8, 2019
  • Location: Austin, Texas

Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705

info@wcfish.com
Tel. (512) 452-8811

Tribute & Message From The Family


Alaka Valanju, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, scientist, engineer, entrepreneur, and wonderful person with great character, intelligence, beauty, poise, and presence passed away peacefully on March 8 in Austin, Texas, USA.

Alaka was born in Mumbai, India. Her wonderful parents raised two daughters with an emphasis on character, kindness, hard work, and a love of life. She imparted the same values to her son and husband. She was a good daughter, sister, and also a great wife, mother, and grandmother. Everyone around her is going to miss the phenomenal support she so selflessly provided to all. She is survived by her husband, Prashant Valanju, son, Jay Valanju, his wife, Sara Valanju, and grandson, Gavin Valanju, her mother Usha Godbole, her sister Vidya Sathe and her family.

Her keen mind, her ability to make good judgment calls, and her willingness to help everyone without looking for fame was noticed by everyone who knew her. She was the pillar on which her family, her business, her colleagues would always depend; but she never wanted to grab the limelight, so while her accomplishments were impressive and numerous, most people know only the tip of the iceberg of her work.

Alaka had a great memory, and a very keen intellect. She loved to solve large crossword puzzles in her mind without pencil and paper. All her life she could tell detailed stories going all the way back to her early childhood. She was a voracious reader, and an excellent storyteller. Her fact-based as well as fiction stories captivated everyone – young and old. She was always on top of all details of the academic centers and the business she started and ran.

Alaka was the first in her family to attend university. She earned a B.Sc. in Physics and M.Sc. in Nuclear Physics from Bombay University, and then two Masters in Physics and Electrical Engineering from UT Austin. Everyone knew her as the most brilliant, beautiful, and poised woman in school, in college, and at the university.

She worked at UT for 25 years (1979 to 2004); first as a student, then as a Research Scientist and Engineering Associate. Later she was a Research Associate and the Associate Director of the Center for Electromagnetic Materials and Devices at UT-Austin. During that time, she published many important papers, gave great talks, won many grants, and was well-known in academics, and in industry.

She was a co-inventor of Metamaterials; now a world-wide materials science discipline pursued extensively by scientists and engineers. For the past 15 years she served as co-founder and co-owner of MetaMaterials Inc., where she served as Chief Operating Officer and Engineering Manager.

Alaka had a wonderful sense of beauty and nature. She could design things that naturally pleased the eyes, and had a wonderful aesthetic. She was an avid gardener, and was a member of Austin Community Gardens for many years where she joyfully produced a variety of crops. For her, gardening was a great way to relax. In addition to gardening, she practiced the Indian classical dance called Bharatanatyam. She also ran for a number of years, competing in Austin's 10K races.

Alaka loved to spend time with her family and friends, especially weekends with her husband, son, daughter-in-law, and grandson. She traveled the world, and enjoyed sharing stories of places she had visited. The stories were as vivid and varied as her life: childhood stories in India, details of the newest batch of vegetables in her garden, or recounting her first days in the US as a graduate student, and soon after, young mother.

This is the beginning of the celebration of her very accomplished, and full life. She positively impacted everyone she met, and everything she worked on. She took the best care of her family right till the end and beyond. We shall never forget her, and the ripples of her impact, both personally and professionally, will be felt for generations.

Donations can be made to Asian Families Support Services of Austin.

Below is a list of her degrees, positions, the important papers she published, the wonderful talks she gave, and the grants she earned for her pioneering work.

EDUCATION:
• B. Sc. Physics. Bombay University, India.
• M. Sc. Physics. Bombay University, India.
• M.A. Physics. The University of Texas at Austin.
• M.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering. University of Texas at Austin.

POSITIONS:
• 1980-1983: Teaching Assistant, University of Texas, Austin,TX.
• 1982-1986: Systems Programmer, Burroughs Research Ctr, Austin,TX.
• 1986-2001: Research Scientist/Engineer Associate III. CEMD, University of Texas, Austin,TX.
• 2001-2004: Research Associate, CEMD, UT-Austin
• 1999-2004: Associate Director, CEMD, UT-Austin.
(CEMD=Center for Electromagnetic Materials and Devices at the University of Texas)
• 2004-2019: Co-Owner, Co-Founder, Chief Operating Officer, and Engineering Manager, MetaMaterials Inc.

PUBLICATIONS:
• A. Valanju & R. Walser, "Morphologies & micromagnetic structures of ultrafine,phase amorphous COxBy: (O,Ar) films," Materials Research Society Symposium Proceedings, Volume 58, 1986.
• I. S. Jeong, A. Valanju, and R. M. Walser, "Quantitative study of magnetization ripples in Co61B39 amorphous thin films," IEEE Transactions on Magnetics Volume 24, 1725, 1988.
• I. S. Jeong, A. Valanju and R. M. Walser, "High frequency bias-susceptibilities of ultra-soft CoB amorphous thin films," J. Applied Physics, Volume 64 (10), 5679, 1988.
• A. Valanju and R. Walser, "Correlation process parameters with morphology and magnetic properties of Co-based amorphous films," J. Applied Physics, Volume 64, 5443, 1988.
• A. Valanju, and R. M. Walser, "Study of multicomponent magnetic nanostructures with digital image processing technique," Materials Research Society Symposium Proceedings, Volume 132, 173-178, 1989.
• A. Valanju & R. M. Walser, "Structural inhomogeneity & magn. properties of amorphous GdCo compositionally modulated films," J. Appl. Phys., 67 (9), 5674, 1990.
• E. Louis, I. S. Jeong, A. Valanju and R. M. Walser, "Bias and frequency response of the permeability of CoZrNb/SiO2 multilayers," J. Applied Physics, Volume 67 (9), 5117, 1990.
• I.S. Jeong, A. Valanju and R. Walser, "Effect of compositional & structural heterogeneities on magnetic properties of amorphous CoZrNb films," J. Applied Physics, Volume 69 (9), 4471, 1990.
• A. Valanju, D. Y. Kim and R. M. Walser, "Soft magnetic characteristics of Co/Zr thin film layered structures," J. Applied Physics, Volume 69 (8), 5367, 1991.
• A. Valanju, D. Y. Kim and R. M. Walser, "Soft magnetic characteristics of Co/Zr thin film layered structures," J. Applied Physics, Volume 69 (8), 5367, 1991.
• R. M. Walser and A. Valanju, "Displacement Eddy Currents in Magnetic Laminates," IEEE Transactions on Magnetics Volume MAG-28, 2280 (1992).
• R. M. Walser, A. Valanju, W. Win, and M. F. Becker, "In-situ, time-resolved kinetics of reactions at CoGe thin film interfaces," Materials Research Society Symposium Proceedings Volume 237, 655, 1992.
• R. Banerjee, A.P. Valanju, & R.M. Walser, "Magnetic and electrical properties CoFeSiB:O films near percolation threshold," J. Applied Physics, Volume 79(8/B), 6536 (1996).
• G. Choe, A. Valanju and R.M. Walser, "Magnetic Properties of Sequentially Sputtered Amorphous Fe-Ge Thin Films", IEEE Transactions on Magnetics Volume 32(5), 4538 (1996).
• R.M. Walser and A.P. Valanju, "GHz Ferromagnetic Resonance in Laminated Microscale Objects", (Invited Paper ) J. Applied Physics Volume 81 (8/2B), 5169 (1997).
• A. Valanju, W. Win, E.J. Yun and R.M. Walser, "Microstrip Resonator for GHz Measurements of Microscale Magnetic Objects", J. Applied Physics Volume 81 (8/2B), 4325 (1997).
• R. M. Walser, W. Win, and P.Valanju, "Shape-Optimized Ferromagnetic Particles with Maximum Theoretical Microwave Susceptibility," IEEE Transactions on Magnetics Volume 34, 1390 (1998).
• R.M Walser, and A. Valanju, "Materials Issues in the Applications of Ferromagnetic Films in Tunable High Q VHF/UHF Devices", Materials Research Soc. Symp. Proceedings, Material Issues for Tunable RF and Microwave Devices, Volume 603, pp. 83-94 (2000).
• R.M. Walser, A. Valanju and W. Win, "Nanocrystalline Thin Films for Tunable High Q VHF/UHF Devices", Materials Research Society Symposium Proceedings, Material Issues for Tunable RF and Microwave Devices, Volume 603, pp. 95-98 (2000).
• A. Valanju, P.M. Valanju and R.M. Walser, "Lightweight MetaFerrite Collectors: New Enabling Technology for the Square Kilometer Array below 500 MHz,". International Science and Technology Meeting on the Square Kilometer Array, Berkeley, CA, July 9, 2001.
• P.M. Valanju, A.P. Valanju and R.M. Walser, 'MetaFerrites Enabling Material Technology for the Square Kilometer Array," International Science and Technology Meeting on the Square Kilometer Array, Berkeley, CA, July 9, 2009.
• R.M. Walser, A.P. Valanju and P.M. Valanju, "Comment on extremely low frequency plasmons in metallic mesostructures," Physical Review Letters, Volume 87 (11) pp. (Sept. 10, 2001).
• P.M. Valanju and R.M. Walser, and A. Valanju, "Wave refraction in negative-index media: Always positive and very inhomogeneous," Physical Review Letters, Volume 88 (18) pp. (May 6, 2002).
• P.M. Valanju and R.M. Walser, and A. Valanju, Comment on "Wave refraction in negative-index media: Always positive and very inhomogeneous," Physical Review Letters, Volume 90 (2) pp. (January 17, 2003).
• P.M. Valanju and R.M. Walser, and A. Valanju, "Wave refraction in negative-index media: Always positive and very inhomogeneous," Physical Review Letters, Volume 88 (18) pp. (May 6, 2002).

PRESENTATIONS:
• R.M. Walser and A. Valanju "Processing Technology for Antenna Loading Matls", California Microwave Inc., Oct. 4, 1996.
• R.M. Walser and A. Valanju, Invited Presentation, "Loading Materials for Conformal Multiaperture Antennas, " B2 Division, Northrop-Grumman, Pico Rivera, CA, Oct. 16 (1996).
• R.M. Walser and A. Valanju: Presentations to Industry Advisory Board, Center for Electromagnetic Materials and Devices, UT Austin: "Executive Summary of Center for Electromagnetic Materials and Devices", October 21 (1996). "Super Refractive Index Matched Microwave Composites". "Magnetic Nanoflakes".
• A. Valanju and R. M .Walser, "UHF properties of multilayer CoFe/NiFe films", 37th International Conf. Magnetics and Magnetic Materials and INTERMAG, Jan. 1998.
• A. Valanju and R.M. Walser, "Metamaterials," Presented at Industry Advisors Meeting, Ctr for Electromagnetic Materials and Devices, May 29 (2002).
• R.M. Walser and A. Valanju, "Metamaterials," Presented at Northrop-Grumman, Oct. 20 (2004).
• A. Valanju and R.M. Walser, "MetaConductors," Presented at Boeing Phantom Works, Oct. 27 (2004).
• A. Valanju, "Overview of MetaMaterials," Industry Associates Meeting Northrop-Grumman,Oct. 11(2005).

FUNDING WON:
• R. M. Walser and A. Valanju, Advanced Electromagnetic Materials, DARPA, Oct. 1, 1983 - Oct. 31, 1987.
• A. Valanju, Electromagnetic Interactions in Microstructural Magnetic Particles and Ensembles, ONR, 1984-5.
• R. M. Walser and A. Valanju, Nanoscale Magnetic Information Storage Technology, State of Texas Advanced Technology Program,1987 – 1989.
• R. M. Walser & A. Valanju, Study of Nanoheterogeneous Amorphous Magnetic Thin Films, AFOSR, 1987 - 1991.
• R. M. Walser and A. Valanju, "Industrially Relevant Research on Electromagnetic Materials and Devices", Industry/UT-Austin Cooperative Research Center, ( Sponsors: Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon/TI Systems, General Electric, Northrup-Grumman, General Atomics, McDonnell-Douglas, Tracor ) 1994-1998.
• R.M. Walser and A. Valanju, "Metamaterials," Industry Advisors , UT Center for Electromagnetic Materials and Devices, (2002 - 2005).
• A. Valanju & R.M. Walser, "Materials for Low Profile Antenna Design", DARPA & Lincoln Laboratory, 1997-98.
• R. M. Walser and A. Valanju, "Antenna Loading Materials" California Microwave, Inc. 1996-1998; 1999-2000.
• R. M. Walser and A. Valanju, "Deposition of Near Net Shape Nanoscale Objects", Texas Technology Development and Transfer Project, 1998-2000.


Services


Condolence & Memory Journal

Alaka : Alaka's family and ours inter twine together since 1980 December through common Physics world. I am recalling now that Alaka and me spent hours, years without talking about physics or her any scientific achievement. But we had many other things to talk like movies, books, mythology society, gardening or about our common friend circle. Her smiling face always remind me her strong mind with her soft words, she was (!) a real friend whom we can count on in our bad days as well as good times.
She came to see us on wheelchair with smiling face on2015 thanksgiving day and then 2017 very last time she came on wheelchair with tearful eyes almost no voice. We are very proud and lucky to have you as a friend.
I wish that if we could talk just sitting on the floor with a cup of tea like old time, just once more..
Syamali Nandi, Stillwater, OK
3/20/2019

Posted by Syamali Nandi - Stillwater, OK - Friend   March 20, 2019

How fortunate we were to have counted Alaka as one of our friends. Highly intelligent and highly intuitive, Alaka graced her friends with humor and compassion. From arranging elaborate dinner parties to excelling in her profession, Alaka exhibited a competence and balance that is an inspiration to us all. We will miss her terribly but will keep our memories of her as a wonderful person and great friend. Tom first met Alaka and Prashant at Pace Bend Park (Paleface Park) in the mid-1970s shortly before Jay was born, and has enjoyed knowing them since.

Linda Magee & Tom Wilmore

Posted by Linda Magee & Tom Wilmore - Bellingham, WA - Family Friend   March 20, 2019

Candle

We are very sorry for Prashant and family's loss. We had the pleasure to meet Prashant when our son went to UT-Austin for studies. It was a great relief for us to know that Prashant and Alka were there. May her soul rest in peace.

Posted by Smita Narvekar - ARCADIA, CA - Friend   March 19, 2019

I am so sorry for yours family's loss. It would have been a pleasure to have known Alaka. Please accept my deepest sympathy.

Posted by Kathy Lodge - Heathrow, FL   March 17, 2019

Alka, You were a role model of a person with exceptional intelligence, modesty and kindness. We will truly miss you.

Posted by Vinkesh & Syama Mehta - Austin, TX - Friend   March 17, 2019

I am honored to have worked with Alaka for many years. She was a very loyal associate to Dr. Walser and a positive leader to all of our efforts. Alaka liked and appreciated my animals, especially the baby lambs and goats. She and Preshante-EEE-POO came to seethe 'heard' a while back and had a good time. Rodger has a picture of one of my dogs, Ranger with Alaka at her desk in MetaMaterials. Many will miss Her and I am proud to be included in those that loved Her.

Joe Swahn & Jane
Bertram, Texas

Posted by Joe Swahn - Bertram, TX - Coworker   March 16, 2019

A truly remarkable career, which we suspected but never really knew about it. Our contacts were on more mundane and social level but she was very special at those too - a class; always made us feel welcome to new town when we arrived several years ago. Will miss you.

Posted by sadashiv & Jaya Pethe - now in The Woodlands Tx afte, TX - Friend   March 16, 2019

I first met her as a graduate student in Austin. I was struck by her joy, kindness and generosity. Along with Prashant, she made me very welcome in Austin: several time preparing elaborate dinners where we could meet several people in the community. She possessed a sharp intellect and a ready with which simultaneously put her guests at ease and in splits. She was also a brilliant scientist and her depth of thought and analysis was apparent even in the shortest conversations. She was, of course, a brilliant cook and we would all look forward to her elaborate dinners. She managed a wonderful household while simultaneously engaging in an accomplished career. She will be greatly missed. My prayers are for Prashant and the rest of her family that they are comforted at this time: for a remarkable, unforgettable, source of joy was Alka.

Posted by Vishwanath Dalvi - Mumbai - Friend   March 15, 2019

Dear Alaka was always smiling, soft spoken, and gentle in her presence. I will cherish our times together in dance class as she loved learning and expressing herself through movement. Although we hadn't met much in the past several years, I will always remember her fondly. The world has lost a beautiful soul. May she be at peace as she continues her journey into the next realm. Prayers to Prashant, Jay, Sara, and Gavin and the entire family.

Posted by Anu Naimpally - Austin, TX - Friend   March 15, 2019

Candle

Lata and I have known Alka for many years through Marathi Mandal initially and I ran into her several times at the UT Balcones bldg. She always had a big smile and was extremely friendly. It is a big loss for the family and we want to extend our deepest sympathies to Prashant and the family. Peace to the departed soul. Lata and Tarun Parikh

Posted by Tarun and Lata Parikh - Austin, TX - Friend   March 15, 2019

I will always remember Alakavaini for her beautiful smile and bright eyes. She was a loving wife and mother. I remember her joy when Gavin was born. She was happy when my two daughters went to college and sent me encouraging words. It is a tremendous loss for the family and I hope we find peace and comfort as time goes by.

Posted by Varsha Walke - Mahwah, NJ - Family   March 15, 2019

Alaka was a wonder! Always happy and kind, finding time and energy for doing so much good. I am so very sorry, Prashant. Know that we are thinking of you. Much love. Emilia and Phil

Posted by Emlia Solano - Madrid, Spain - Friend   March 15, 2019

She was an inspiration throughout her life and she remained so to the very end. No words can convey the depth of the loss felt by so many. Our deepest sympathies to the family.

Posted by Mel Oakes - Austin, TX - Friend   March 14, 2019

A Spirit of light and love! Having met her encouraged, and will continue to encourage, the expression of love in all areas of my life.

Posted by Robert Case - Spring, TX - Acquaintance   March 14, 2019

Aunt (Mavshi in Marathi language) Alaka was a very loving, supportive, energetic, focussed and a multi-faceted personality. We all have spent many beautiful moments with her during family unions in India. I had many times received good advice and guidance from her on issues such as academics and career, along with uncle Prashant. It is a great loss to all of us that she is no more with us and I feel extremely sad. Peace be to the departed soul.
. .

Posted by Atul Sathe - Mumbai - Family   March 14, 2019

It was a great honour to know her and meet her while she was in India. May she rest in peace and lots of strength to the family.

Posted by Rahul Apte - Pune - Family   March 14, 2019

Wow. I only knew her as a beautiful and kind neighbor who was also a brilliant person. I am so honored to have known her and so sorry the world, and her family, has lost her.

Posted by Carrell Grigsby - Austin, TX - Neighbor   March 13, 2019

Candle

I have known Alaka for over two decades, as a wonderful friend and a happy-go-lucky person to be with, but never new her achievements till i read the obituary. She never bragged about her scholastic abilities with her friends. An intellect and yet with her friends she was a very down-to-earth person, and that quality of hers let her win many friends. She will be missed very much. May god bless her soul.

Posted by Anjali Paipanandiker - Austin, TX - Friend   March 13, 2019

We came to know how great Alaka was after reading obituary written by Prashant. May God rest her soul in peace and give strength to all of us to bear the loss. RIP Alaka !

Posted by Avadhut Sathe - Mumbai - Family   March 13, 2019


Family Album


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Community Photos

Alaka and Prashant at Jay and Sara's wedding
Alaka with henna at Prakash Amparo wedding.